BACKGROUND: Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, examines the effect of white kidney bean extract (called Phase 2) on food and Glycemic Index (GI) levels. The research has resulted in the development of many new products for people on special GI diets, including a new pasta. It could especially benefit patients with diabetes, who need to closely monitor and control blood sugar levels, as well as serious athletes and overweight people.
ABOUT THE STUDY: Previous clinical trials found that 1 gram of the Phase 2 kidney bean extract affects blood glucose levels, while the new study shows that 2-3 grams affect GI levels. White kidney bean extract neutralizes the digestive enzyme necessary for starch to turn into glucose. It slows the digestion of starches and sugars, which can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar after eating. A previous UCLA study found that Phase 2 reduced starch absorption by 66%.
THE GLYCEMIC INDEX: Developed in the 1980s, the glycemic index (GI) ranks various foods according to how they affect blood sugar levels two to three hours after eating. Foods high in fat or protein don't raise levels very much, while certain carbohydrates are so easily broken down in intestine that blood sugar levels rise too quickly. The GI only tells you how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into glucose; it doesn't tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a given serving of a particular food, or what percentage are 'available' carbohydrates, i.e., those that provide energy (starch and sugar, as opposed to fiber). You need to know both to fully understand how a given food affects blood sugar levels. The glycemic load (GL) measures the latter. A GI if 70 or more is high; 56 to 59 is medium; and 55 or less is low. A GL of 20 or more is high; 11 to 19 is medium; and 10 or less is low.
HOW DIGESTION WORKS: Food and drink must be changed into smaller molecules of nutrients to be absorbed into the blood and carried to cells throughout the body. It does this via the digestion process. Food is travels through the esophagus into the stomach, where it is dissolved and emptied into the small intestine. The digested nutrients are absorbed through the intestinal walls, while the rest is expelled as waste.